Thursday, December 7, 2006

Two versions of The Past Through Tomorrow

The other day I was thinking about how advanced that Star Trek (the original series) was in predicting science innovations. Too bad the more recent versions of Star Trek have not been as innovative. The original Star Trek series was like one version of The Past Through Tomorrow. (What we see now and what we may see in the future).

Some of the things science has come up with that were portrayed on TV are as follows:
*Dr. McCoy's hypo spray = needleless vaccination guns used in hospitals.
*Captain Kirk's handheld computer on the bridge = Microsoft's Tablet PCs.
*Captain Kirk's communicator = cell phones minus miniature bomb & locator.
*Motion sensors in ships doors = pocket doors in hospitals & grocery stores.

The other version of The Past Through Tomorrow that comes to mind is a book of short stories of the same name by Robert A. Heinlein. It is my favorite science fiction book and even though there are plenty of other things to read, I have to reread it every year or two.

The short stories in The Past Through Tomorrow work together as a timeline, and the timeline is published in some editions of the book.

Every time I read the book, I find myself sympathizing with the same characters, rooting for them, etc., even though I know about the final outcome of the stories I remember.

I do not like every story, but when was the last time you bought a music CD and liked every song on it?

Even though both the book and Star Trek are written from the perspective of being in the future when it was written, Star Trek is much more perceptive on scientific inventions to come. The Past Through Tomorrow is not only wrong in some cases, it goes in a different direction. Many of the stories are as much human interest stories as they are science fiction stories. The wrong directions really do nothing to detract from the stories.

In the US, as far as I know, the book has always been published in one volume. In the UK, the book was split and published in two volumes. When buying thy book you have to make sure whether you are buying the entire book, Vol. I or Vol. II.

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